Rising to the challenge of becoming a dementia-friendly community, Gloucestershire opened its first high-street dementia pop-up shop to the public in November last year.
The idea was conceived by two managers of local nursing homes who had completed the Gloucestershire dementia leadership award. This involves producing and implementing an action plan or developing an innovative concept to improve care.
Care home mangers Lucy Hennessey and Becky Haywood began the project by negotiating with the council over the use of an empty high-street shop for a day. They ran an advertising campaign, which included sending out flyers and talking with the local media.
The shop opened for a day in Cheltenham High Street. Free expert advice was available from local solicitors, a GP, Age UK and Managing Memory 2gether NHS services. It offered free hand massages for people with dementia and their carers, and a personal trainer demonstrated the value of physical exercise programmes designed for people with dementia. Free coffee and biscuits were available as well as leaflets about dementia. The shop displayed local children’s artwork depicting positive images of dementia as part of the intergenerational awareness-raising work taking place in the county.
Staff and volunteers gave up their time to support and run the shop for the day. More than 80 people came in for advice, signposting or emotional support, and many more stopped outside the shop to read the information displayed in the window. We received many positive comments, including “What a good way to encourage us to talk about it… it is very hard to talk you know but this makes it more acceptable,” and “What an innovative idea, well done”.
Although some people were reluctant to come into the shop - for example: “I don’t want to come in but do you have something that explains what Alzheimer’s disease is?” - they felt compelled to share with us. It was emotional that people shared intimacies about themselves, their understanding and their families. It is something most of us (all seasoned in working with the public and talking about dementia) were not expecting and had not really experienced before.
Having the shop on the high street achieved what we all hoped it would - it brought dementia into people’s lives and began the process of breaking down stigma and misunderstanding. The shop reached people who other services had not; because of this, we quickly realised that we needed to move the shop around the county to reach all groups and continue ensuring that Gloucestershire is recognised by its population as dementia-friendly and dementia-positive.
● If you would like more information about Gloucestershire’s dementia pop-up shops, contact email@example.com.
Mary Keating is dementia education and training nurse, Gloucestershire dementia education strategy group team, Gloucestershire County Council and NHS Gloucestershire